Jacksonville, FL — It's already underway at a handful of junior high schools in Clay County, but by the end of the 2018-2019 school year it will be expanded to include ALL junior high schools in the district.
Clay County Schools has launched a partnership with Motivational Coaches of America to help students identified at risk of 'disengaging' from the learning process, whether that be attendance or behavioral issues, or academic concerns.
Clay County Superintendent Addison Davis says it's about providing students access to behavior and mental health services--- at no cost.
"It's really... driven to inspire, motivate, and engage youth into a positive action and work with students who are at risk from dropping out of the learning environment," explains Davis.
Davis says these coaches can engage with up to 75 students at one time, with students able to see them once or twice a week, in order to help them with coping skills, self-esteem issues, and more.
The president of Motivational Coaches of America, Julio Avael, says there's a great need for access to mental health services at schools.
"We recognize that 1 in 5 children in the United States will have a mental health disorder diagnosed to them at any given year. Considering the opioid crisis we're dealing with as well, knowing there's a direct correlation and connection between mental health wellness and physical wellness, our goal is to ensure access by placing motivational coaches-- which are trained professional therapists-- on school campuses from opening bell to closing bell," says Avael.
He says participating students have experienced some of the following benefits:
- 98% Improvement in submitting homework assignments
- 93% Improvement in parent/child relationships
- 88% Decrease in self-harming behavior
- 97% Decreases in rates of alcohol and substance abuse
- 87% Increase in school engagement
According to non-profit Mental Health America, Florida currently ranks 41st in the nation for youth mental, behavioral, and emotional health and 38th in access to care.
In a report released last year by the Florida Department of Children in Families, Clay County showed one of the highest increases in rates for children who were Baker Acted within a five-year span, coming in at 38%.
Superintendent Davis says programs like this one, help them achieve their vision of developing the ‘whole child.’